Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network commits to 'Axe the Fax'

A shift from paper to digital referrals is underway at our Network, with a new system set to increase efficiencies and improve the patient experience by allowing GPs, specialists, allied health professionals and primary care providers to send e-referrals to us securely.

From 1 February 2023, our Network is committing to take action to ‘Axe the Fax’, partnering with Australian health technology company Consultmed to evolve the referral process.

“The transition to a digital referral system will increase efficiency for our clinicians and administrative staff, as well as improve the experience for our patients and their families,” said Dr Mary McCaskill, Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance at our Network.

“After piloting Consultmed in 2021, we saw significant improvements in the quality of referral information, as well as the time needed to triage the referral, which takes on average one to four minutes, compared with 10 to 15 minutes to manually process.”

The new system will help streamline digital referrals, consent, clinical triage, and remote expert opinion, with improved data quality, provision of real-time data and better integration.

“The technology facilitates more effective clinical handover processes and ensures that patient information is securely transferred between healthcare providers, ultimately improving healthcare outcomes for the children we care for,” Dr McCaskill said.

In the time of COVID-19, we have seen a transformation in the way healthcare is delivered in our Network and nationwide. The rapid adoption of telehealth services and a broader shift towards electronic processes has seen technology used to better engage and treat patients.

“The digital referral system helps ensure that quality and continuity of care is maintained as the patient transitions in and out of specialist care, particularly for patients who require a coordinated care approach between acute and primary care services.”

“This is a natural progression to drive efficiency and improvements, particularly with growing demands on the health system”, Dr McCaskill added.

While over 80 per cent of referrals to hospitals are still sent via fax, post or hand-delivered, our Network is looking to the future, and eliminating the risks posed by paper referrals, which can be misplaced, lost in transit, or lack relevant clinical information.

From 1 February 2023, all specialist clinical services at our Network will transition to digital referrals using the Consultmed system.